Source: The Independent
Is Barack Obama a politician whose actions should be judged soberly, or a figure from a feel-good fairytale to be revered from afar?
For two years now, most of the good and honorable people who desperately wanted him to beat John McCain – as I did –have watched his actions through a distorting haze of hoping for the best. So when Obama set us all up for another global crash by refusing to reregulate the banks or stop even their riskiest practices, we looked away. When Obama set us all up for more terror attacks by trebling the troops in Afghanistan and launching a vicious air war on Pakistan that is swelling the ranks of jihadis, we didn’t want to hear it. When Obama set us all up for environmental disaster by refusing to put the brakes on his country’s unprecedented and unmatched emissions of climate-destabilizing gases, we switched over to watch will.i.am’s YouTube rejig of the President’s “yes, we can” speech. And when a week from now he is beaten at the mid-term elections – after having so little to show the American people – by a group of even more irrational Republicans, we will weep for him.
As Rober D. Hodge writes in his excellent new book ‘The Mendacity of Hope’, “Obama is judged not as a man but as a fable, a tale of moral uplift that redeems the sins of America’s shameful past.” Our longing for him to be Martin Luther King reborn has meant good people have not pushed and pressured and opposed him, even as he endangered us.
But if you choose to see this as another fairytale – of how one man who seemed like a Good Prince turned out to be a Traitor – you will miss the point, and the real need for change. This is not primary a question of individual failings, but of the endemic corruption at the core of American politics. The facts are not hidden. If you want to run for national office in the US, you have to raise huge sums of money from corporations and very rich people to pay for the adverts and the mailings that get you on the ballot and into office. These corporations will only give you money if you persuade them that you will serve their interests once you are in power. If you say instead that you want to prevent anything destructive they are doing to ordinary people, or tax and regulate them, you will get no money, and can’t run.
As the Wisconsin politician Ed Garvey puts it: “Even candidates who get into politics with the best of intentions start thinking they can’t get re-elected without money. Senators get so reliant on the money that they reflect it; they stop thinking for themselves, stop thinking like the people who elected them. They just worry about getting the money.”